The Senate on Saturday voted 50-48 to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. It’s among the closest votes on a Supreme Court nominee in the history of our country, and it underscores just how divided this whole process has been.
There were two party defectors: Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who wanted to vote “no” but instead voted “present” so that her colleague could attend his daughter’s wedding; and Joe Manchin (D-WV), who voted in favor.
Now that Kavanaugh is on the Court, the effects of this vote will reverberate for decades. In the near term, it also sends a painful message about the current state of partisan rancor — and the entrenched unwillingness to believe women who come forward about sexual assault.
Many things stood out about Kavanaugh’s confirmation process. It was exceedingly polarizing and marred by Republicans — and the White House — withholding thousands of documents from Kavanaugh’s time working in the George W. Bush administration. It was rushed through by a Senate majority leader who wanted him confirmed before the midterm elections next month, even though he’d previously held up an Obama administration nominee for nearly a year. It was tainted by repeated instances of Kavanaugh misleading lawmakers about everything from his involvement in Bush-era detainee policy to his own drinking habits, while under oath.
At the end of the day, however, what this vote will truly be defined by is whether senators believed the word of multiple women. And as the final vote on Kavanaugh suggests, they simply didn’t.
In the era of #MeToo, many have reflected on the 1991 Anita Hill hearings when she levied sexual harassment claims against Clarence Thomas only to see him confirmed for the high court anyway. Long before Kavanaugh had ever been nominated for the Court, some argued that something like that couldn’t possibly happen again.
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